Published: Sun, September 16, 2018
Business | By Eloise Houston

Volkswagen to end production of the iconic Beetle next year

Volkswagen to end production of the iconic Beetle next year

Volkswagen announced Thursday it will stop Beetle production in 2019, and these Final Edition models mark the end of the line.

Last March, Volkswagen R&D Chief Frank Welsch confirmed at the 2018 Geneva International Motor Show that the company has no plans of building another Beetle after the third-generation model.

"I would say "never say never", VW of America CEO Hinrich Woebcken said in a statement.

The original VW Beetle, developed in the 1930s, made a journey from a product identified with Adolf Hitler to a symbol of Germany's rebirth as a democratic, industrial powerhouse after World War Two.

"The nostalgia for the '60s is going away as the baby boomer generation is going away", Wolkonowicz said. The iconic vehicle sold for about 30 years before production ceased in 1979.

Frank Welsch, Volkswagen R&D boss, a year ago told Autocar you can't have a "new, new, new Beetle" and, instead, "two or three generations is enough now".

The Beetle still has its share of adherents - owners gather annually at Volkswagen festivals like Ohio's Volksfest - but while Volkswagen tried to update the classic look of the Beetle each year, sales for the model have been slumping in the US, where consumers have a preference for larger cars. The auto became a phenomenon again in the 1990s when VW brought it back to America after a 20-year lapse.

The result attracted mainly female buyers.

The company is not leaving behind all of its well-known older models. VW revived the "New Beetle" in the United States 1997.

The special editions, which come in coupe and convertible body styles, get unique beige and blue colours in addition to the normal hues. Inside, it's optioned with keyless entry and push-button start, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, automatic climate control, a gloss black center console, rhombus-pattern cloth seating surfaces and three-color ambient lighting. The car's popularity, already quite high, skyrockets and 423,000 units are sold that year in the United States alone.

However, there is reason to believe that "history" VW Beetle will not end. The automaker plans to revamp the Puebla, Mexico, factory where it is built to accommodate production of its latest lineup of cars and SUVs.

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